NBA Postseason Graveyard: Portland Trail Blazers
Welcome, to the NBA Postseason Graveyard on The 12th Man, the NBA Hoops feature for Technorati! During the postseason, when a team gets eliminated, we will take a look back at their season, and what do they do for the future to get better. There are 15 graves here and three teams were sent to the grave on Thursday night. We now are going to take a look at the Portland Trail Blazers.
2010-11 Portland Trail Blazers
Record: 48-34 (6th, West)
Playoff Result: lost conf. quarterfinal (Mavericks, 4-2)
The Portland Trail Blazers were perceived as one of the teams on the rise in 2007, relying on Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, and the drafting the Greg Oden. Portland became one of the teams of the future, and figured to be a major contender. However, fate has intervened, and the Blazers have went from a team of the future to a team that has been set back to just a playoff contender.
Injuries have ravaged the Blazers, as Roy has underwent arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees, and due to the little bit of cartilage he has left in the knee, Greg Oden has only played 82 games since being the #1 draft pick in the 2007 NBA Draft (the Seattle SuperSonics took some guy named Kevin Durant after him), and the team lost shot blocker extraordinaire Marcus Camby due to a knee injury. But even with all of the injuries that were made, the opportunity for other players to step up was huge, and the team for the most part seized the moment. And it started at the top with a big trade deadline move with the Charlotte Bobcats.
Blazers General Manager Rich Cho pulled off the move to get Gerald Wallace from Charlotte for Dante Cunningham, Sean Marks, Joel Pryzbilla, and draft picks (including Portland's first round pick for the 2011 NBA Draft). Wallace stepped in and fit with the Blazers nicely. He brought nothing but passion and desire, along with reckless abandon on defense and an alternate option for scoring. The team and its fans embraced him, and he put 100 percent each time out on the floor. Another man who stepped in and stepped up was Wesley Matthews, who was undrafted, and after starting his career with the Utah Jazz, Portland signed him to an offer sheet that Utah declined to match. After Roy went down with his surgery, Matthews asserted himself when put in the starting lineup, finishing with 15.9 points per game.
Also stepping up for Portland was LaMarcus Aldridge, who became the focal point of the team in Roy's absence, posting career-highs in points (21.8) and rebounds (8.8) and tying his career high in blocks per game (1.2). These numbers enabled Aldridge to finish second in the NBA Most Improved Award voting behind the winner, Kevin Love.